Israel Strikes Hamas Positions as Incendiary Balloon Launches From Gaza Persist

On Wednesday, balloon bombs sent from the enclave ignited 28 fires in Israeli communities near the Gaza border

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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Israeli army strikes Gaza, August 18, 2020.
Israeli army strikes Gaza, August 18, 2020. Credit: AFP
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Israeli tanks attacked Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for explosive-laden balloons launched from the coastal enclave into Israel, the army said in a statement on Thursday.  

On Wednesday, firefighting and rescue services said that balloon bombs sent from Gaza ignited 28 fires in the Sha'ar HaNegev and Eshkol regional councils near the border fence. Most of the fires were small and did not pose danger.

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In addition, a balloon attached to a suspicious object was located near a house in Eshkol. A police sapper was called to the scene to defuse the object.  

On Tuesday, Israeli fighter jets attacked several underground Hamas targets in the strip after incendiary balloons caused multiple fires in the country's south.

Earlier, 19 fires broke out in southern Israel after incendiary balloons were launched into Israeli territory from the enclave, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services said. 

The bushfires, including one outside the yard of a Sderot kindergarten, were tackled by firefighters, JNF and Nature and Parks Authority teams, the army and volunteers. 

Egyptian officials arrived in Gaza on Monday in an effort to de-escalate the rising tensions on the Gaza-Israel border over the past weeks. The delegation entered the Strip through the Erez border crossing, and according to sources in Gaza will hold talks with senior Hamas officials, as well as with other Palestinian factions in the coastal enclave.

On Sunday night, Israeli tanks struck Hamas observation posts in retaliation for the explosive-laden balloon launches, which have sparked dozens of fires in Israel's south.  

Last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has halted fuel transfers into Gaza amid the balloons. In addition, Israel restricted the fishing zone to eight nautical miles from 15, and halted all transfer of goods from its Erez land crossing.

In the past week, intensive negotiations have taken place between Israel and Hamas, via Qatar and Egypt, in an attempt to stop the escalation on the Gaza border.

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